Two Cowlitz County commissioners said they back the longshoremen’s union in its picket of the EGT grain terminal Tuesday, and one has even visited the picket line to lend support.
Two citizens, former Longview social studies teacher Larry Wagle and Rick Von Rock, a former Kelso councilman and pulp union leader, asked commissioners where they stood in battle between the union and the grain terminal owner during commissioners’ regular meeting Tuesday. Both men also voiced support for the Longview-based Local 21 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Commissioner Mike Karnofski noted the disagreement will be settled in court but signaled support for the union by adding he hoped that “everyone follows the contract they signed.”
Von Rock said in the past commissioners have joined picket lines during local labor protests, and Commissioner James Misner said he visited the ILWU picket line at the Port during the July 15 and 16 weekend. Misner said after the meeting that he didn’t walk the picket line but brought donuts to the picketers on July 15 and ice on July 16.
“I told them I supported what they’re doing and that I stand with them,” Misner said after the meeting, adding he has encouraged others at a recent Kiwanis meeting to visit the picket line and show their support. “If we don’t stand up for these type of jobs, we won’t have anything left to stand up for.”
Karnofski said after the meeting that commissioners have not taken any formal vote or resolution, in part because the dispute is headed to court. But he reiterated that he’d like to see EGT abide by the contract and hire ILWU workers.